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August 27, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

If there’s a unique perspective to our collective outlook at the University of Miami, it’s that we are writing our own story, in our own way. Consider that we were founded as the academic companion to a burgeoning city situated at the hemispheric crossroads of our nation. Or that we survived and even thrived despite natural and national catastrophes and economic downturns. It’s no wonder that our transformation into a major research university has been entrepreneurial, inspired, and unyielding. And while we were established as a private university, we have always recognized that we have a very public mission to serve our greater community and the world.

As our wonderful students return to our campuses, they are animated with their unlimited potential and the conviction that the University of Miami will have a profound impact in shaping their future. We, the faculty, staff, and administration, should always feel empowered and emboldened to make a real difference, one student, one patient, one lesson, and one day at a time.

Thanks to everyone’s outstanding efforts at the Miller School of Medicine, UHealth had a strong end-of-year report card. We have made progress in improving vital areas like patient access, customer service, and overall financial performance. There is more work to be done, and we are slowly hiring again in key positions. At the same time, we continue to strengthen our longtime partnership with Jackson Memorial Hospital/Jackson Health System. No other hospital system in America combines so successfully the prestige and clinical excellence of a world-class medical school with a powerful community mission to serve all residents, from the richest to the poorest.

All our campuses have geared up for the influx of new wide-eyed undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Thank you all for providing a warm Hurricane welcome, especially to our new students and their visiting parents. A special note of gratitude goes out to everyone who has helped with the herculean job of implementing the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) student information systems module. Bringing the student system online is the first step in a multiyear and multiphase process that will ultimately transform the way we conduct business across the University.

It’s especially exciting that this school year is highlighted by the opening of several new and renovated buildings that will improve our students’ overall experience—academic, social, and developmental. As caretakers of learning, we will have access to innovative resources that redefine the contours of a University of Miami education.

  • There’s the Student Center Complex, which includes the stunning Student Activities Center, the renovated Whitten University Center, the UC Patio, and the Lake Osceola walkway.
  • The magnificent Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence is enriched by renovations to its companion structure, the Hecht Athletic Center.
  • The venerable Cox Science Building has now kicked it up several notches with a beautiful outdoor plaza and the strategically aligned interdisciplinary Neuroscience Annex.
  • The Patricia and Harold Toppel Career Center will soon open its greatly expanded home at the site of the former Writing Center, which relocated to LaGorce House by the BankUnited Center.
  • Scheduled for opening in Spring 2014, the Rosenstiel School’s state-of-the-art Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex will be home to the Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. SUSTAIN Building and Laboratory.
  • Also on the near horizon, we are strongly supporting a general obligation bond campaign for Jackson Health System. This bond proposal is a roadmap for the future of UM/Jackson and will fund improvements it needs to continue providing unmatched care to thousands of our fellow Miami-Dade residents. A new UM/Miami Project to Cure Paralysis/Jackson rehabilitation center, partly funded by a lead gift to the University, will combine outstanding clinical care with cutting-edge research in a unified and world-class facility. Other major projects in the Jackson bond campaign are designed to enhance and advance areas where Jackson and UM cooperate most closely: breakthrough surgeries, top-tier care to newborn premature children, trauma medicine, solid organ transplants, and strokes, to name just a few.

Just as transformational, we are implementing a new, university-wide architecture of compliance that will ensure that our work on all our campuses reflects the highest institutional values and standards. From athletics to research to clinical operations, we will be guided by our unwavering commitment to ethical and transparent practices.

Integrity and respect are foundational values at UM. The integrity of our business dealings is critical in preserving our resources and our reputation. We simply cannot allow fraudulent activity within our institution. Likewise, treating each other with dignity and respect at all times is a non-negotiable value. All forms of discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, violate our values, and in many cases, the law, and will not be tolerated. The ’Cane Watch website and hotline provide a confidential tool to report any concerns about violations of University policies or inappropriate conduct.

Finally, Hurricanes Athletics launches their season on the heels of one the most successful years in our history for 2012-2013. Fifteen of our 18 sports teams participated in NCAA postseason play, including our men’s basketball team, who were ACC regular-season and tournament champions; our women’s tennis team, ACC champions; and our storied baseball program, which competed in its 41st consecutive NCAA Tournament. As important, UM student-athletes continue to be among the nation’s best with a 93 percent Graduation Success Rate, as well as many individual academic achievements.     

I am sure I’m not alone in looking forward to moving beyond the challenges of the NCAA investigation. The last three years have been difficult, but we are grateful for the dedication of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff and the overwhelming support of the University of Miami family, including thousands of alumni and fans.

I can never thank you enough for what you do for the University of Miami, and I am proud to be a colleague with such a loyal and passionate community of dedicated people.

The future has never looked brighter.

Wishing a happy and productive 2013-2014 school year to all,